I thought about making a list of my favorite book settings for next week's Top Ten Tuesday (based on the June 7, 2011 post for The Broke and the Bookish), but after starting on this one, I knew this was too huge of a topic for just one post. Each week I am going to pick another world or fictionalized version of our own to which I would love to escape.
No, that is not Florida. Piers Anthony, the author of the fantastic Xanth series, lives in Florida an imagined a parallel world that shares many similarities. There is one main difference - Xanth is a magical realm. There is some accidental travel between lands, and there are "Waves" of civilization that comes from Mundania (our world) to Xanth. The one catch is, when someone travels to Mundania, there is no guarantee about which peninsula or time period in which you arrive.
Every human who is born in Xanth has a magical talent. Think of superheros that have just one super power. These talents can range from minor "spot on the wall" abilities where that individual can change the color of a spot on the wall or make dust devils. Then there are the Magicians. These people have extremely strong magic, such as transforming any living object into something else or making inanimate objects speak. Centaurs also have magical talents as they are mostly human, and goblins and harpies have half-talents since they are only half human.
The land is magical in every corner of its existence and plagued with puns. A breadfruit tree in Xanth has fruit that is literally made of bread. Oh, if you put someone on a pedestal, they are literally on a pedestal and cannot get down of their own accord. It is utter, blissful silliness and I would hate to tell you more and spoil the epic puns.
I read my first Xanth novel when I was nine. Crewel Lye: A Caustic Yarn caught my eye in a used bookstore in Rock Springs, Wyoming. It is the eighth book in the series, but I was bored and book-starved since I was traveling with my mom and her work. Imagine a summer with no kids your age. Yeah, you'll read anything. I managed to luck out with this one. I had the book read in a day. Then I reread it. I rinsed and repeated that cycle a few times, until my mother took me to a bookstore with a proper selection of books. I devoured every novel in the series that had been written up to that point. My friends even started to read about Xanth because I would talk of nothing else. I would be at a bookstore on release day after each book came out and would have it read within a day. My family still picks on me about that.
I am not obsessed with Xanth anymore, sadly. I grew up and lost interest in the childhood fantasy. I think I stopped around book #25 - Anthony has published thirty-five in the series now. I always say that I'm going to catch up, but I never do. However, I did have to go back to Xanth one more time when I was desperately ill last March. There was no greater comfort while I was hospitalized than visiting old friends in Question Quest - the one book that I have reread more than any other. I don't mean just from the Xanth series. I am not exaggerating in the slightest (probably grossly underestimating) when I tell you that I have read that book more than thirty times. Can you blame me? We all need a safe, familiar place to escape to sometimes.